Wisconsin Speaker Wonders Why Everyone’s So Mad At Republicans For Holding Death Election
Wisconsin going ahead with its election Tuesday was a public health disaster that will likely bear deadly fruit in a couple weeks. There were long lines of people spreading coronavirus and not even having a fun Spring Break (I saw no keg stands). Everyone's horrified and angry but the true tragedy, according to the state's Republican Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, is that people are blaming him and other Republicans for the lethal shitshow and not Gov. Tony Evers, who's a Democrat and everything.
Well, Einstein, this isn't the governor's fault because he asked the Republican-controlled legislature to postpone the primary, preferably at some time when it's safe to leave the house. Voters literally defied a statewide “stay-at-home" order when they showed up at their polling place yesterday. Evers also suggested mailing absentee ballots to every registered voter in Wisconsin. That seems very safe and smart, but the Republicans rejected the proposal after mulling it over for literally 17 seconds, like they were a Jim Crow-era jury sentencing a black man to death for ... whatever the crime was.
Evers issued an executive order to keep people safe, but the the legislature sued and the state Supreme Court overrode the order on predictably partisan lines. The five conservatives on the Supreme Court also blocked extending the deadline for absentee voting. Republicans were fairly united in seeing that this experiment in exponentially spreading an infectious disease proceeded on schedule.
Way back in September of 2019, Vos asked Evers to postpone a special election because the timing would place the primary on December 30, the last day of Hanukkah, and the second to last day before Hell Year, 2020.
"It is unnecessary to require Wisconsinites to exercise their civic duty to vote on a day they have set aside for a religious purpose," Vos said in the statement. "I respectfully demand that you find a new date for the upcoming special election."
It's also unnecessary to require that Wisconsinites choose whether to literally “vote or die." But a pandemic isn't a festival of lights. Vos declared Evers's executive order “unconstitutional overreach" and said the “clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election."
VOS: The governor himself has repeatedly acknowledged he can't move the election. Just last week, a federal judge said he did not have the power to cancel the election and Governor Evers doesn't either. Governor Evers can't unilaterally run the state.
This is Republican obstructionist boiler plate. Evers didn't try to “unilaterally run the state." He asked Republicans to behave like human beings — kind of silly in retrospect, but he made the good faith effort. Maybe Republicans hoped to massively suppress the vote and reap the benefits. Democrats were decent enough to suspend normal GOTV efforts. But now it (rightly) looks like Republicans put partisan politics over public health and people will die as a result. Damn right we're going to blame them for this.
And no matter how gerrymandered Wisconsin is, we'd say every Republican Assembly member who's up for reelection in November, which is all of them, ought to start hitting up their lobbyist friends for new jobs. "Let them die" is just a terrible slogan.
And this is just a terrible look.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).